Kathryn Berkhimer Alumni Spotlight

November 29, 2023

In this picture: Kathryn (second from the left) and her beautiful family
  • Favorite memory as an undergraduate student?

My favorite memories from Clemson are the friendships I made; the people I met that helped shape me into who I am.  Those friendships have lasted over 20 years and I continue to value those wonderful friendships to this day.

  • Can you share your career journey since graduating from our college?

Upon completing my education at Clemson, I embarked on my professional journey as an Assistant Media Buyer at an advertising agency responsible for Nissan. Unfortunately, after approximately six months, the office I was located at closed its operations, resulting in a period of unemployment.

During my subsequent job search, I ultimately accepted a sales position, despite harboring reservations about a role in sales. Despite my initial reluctance, I found myself in the challenging but transformative sphere of sales at Marriott International. The rigorous training proved to be invaluable, pushing me beyond my comfort zone and compelling my introverted tendencies to take a back seat as the need to be outgoing was critical in my success. The experience, although exhausting, instilled in me a profound appreciation for the dynamic nature of the hotel industry, where each day brought forth new challenges and opportunities for learning.

After an enriching eight-year tenure, I recognized the need for a change and transitioned to a digital marketing position at a private owner and operator of hotels. The years spent in sales provided me with a unique perspective that facilitated effective collaboration between sales and marketing teams. Progressing through the ranks, I attained the position of Vice President, a role I held for five years.

Despite the accomplishments, the daily commute, ranging from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, eventually led me to seek a new professional direction. Subsequently, I assumed the role of Director at an education technology company, dedicating another five years to the position. Although fulfilling, my true passion lay in the services industry. In 2019, I seized the opportunity to reconnect with that passion by joining Flight Adventure Park in my current role.

  • How did Clemson Marketing prepare you for the real world?

Clemson Marketing prepared me by helping me to get out of my comfort zone and not being afraid of trying new things.  I studied abroad my senior year, and this opened my eyes to so much more and how big the world is, teaching me how to network and the value of those relationships.  Writing your career journey isn’t easy but getting up when pushed down is just as important as being humble when experiencing success. Clemson’s holistic approach to education, coupled with real-world experiences, has equipped me with the adaptability and tenacity necessary to navigate the dynamic landscape of my professional endeavors.

  • What were some of the challenges you faced during your transition from college to the professional world?

Even though I knew that I wanted to do something in marketing or advertising, I didn’t really know what industry.  I felt a bit lost and after being unemployed for a while after graduation you start to doubt yourself and wonder if you have what it takes, can I really do this. For those navigating a similar path, the resounding answer is yes—you do have what it takes. The journey may be marked by twists and turns, but the unwavering commitment to continuous learning and exploration is what ultimately paves the way to finding your professional calling. So, stay resilient, keep networking, and be open to new experiences; you will undoubtedly find your way.

  • What piece of advice would you give to college students?

As you embark on your career, keep your mind open to new opportunities and possibilities.  You never know where you might find something that interests you or a new passion you didn’t know you had.  Find a mentor, someone who truly cares about you and your success.  Ask questions, a lot of them, and don’t stop asking questions, always ask the why.

  • How did your college experience, both academically and socially, contribute to your personal and professional growth?

I think the experience made me more independent and an advocate for myself. I learned skills such as critical thinking, time management, perseverance, and communication to name a few. All of these can not only help you in your professional life but personal as well.